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Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Stoke City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Middlesbrough and Stoke City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Middlesbrough and Stoke City square off in the Championship on Saturday afternoon with just two points separating the clubs in the standings.

Both teams have claimed just one win in four matches, increasing the need for maximum points to be collected from the fixture at the Riverside Stadium.


Match preview

Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured in February 2021© Reuters

At one point this season, it appeared that Middlesbrough would remain as permanent fixtures in a hotly-contested race for the playoffs.

However, despite 10 points being recorded from their last six matches, Neil Warnock's side now sit eight points adrift of sixth-placed Barnsley.

Warnock struggled to contain his frustration after the latest setback at Swansea City, Boro ultimately losing out to a penalty which was scored deep into added-on time.

Having had a week to stew over that result, Warnock will recognise that his players need to go on the attack at the weekend, especially against opponents who sit just two points adrift of them.

While Boro have scored in their last eight Championship fixtures, more is required from their attacking players with Duncan Watmore remaining as the club's top goalscorer with six goals.

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Michael O'Neill has also endured issues in the final third with just three of his Stoke players scoring more than twice in the Championship this season.

With 25 goal contributions between them, Nick Powell and Steven Fletcher have played a key role, but they will require assistance if the Potters are going to move up the table.

Stoke got back to winning ways against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend courtesy of rare efforts from Harry Souttar and Rhys Norrington-Davies.

However, the Staffordshire outfit's last away triumph came back on December 2, leaving O'Neill and his players looking to end a nine-match winless streak on their travels.

Middlesbrough Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Stoke City Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W


Team News

Stoke City's Jacob Brown in action with Nottingham Forest's Ryan Yates in the Championship on December 29, 2020© Reuters

Warnock could hand a start to January arrival Nathaniel Mendez-Laing after the winger made an impact versus Swansea.

Neeskens Kebano, Chuba Akpom and Ashley Fletcher are also in contention for a recall to the side, with Djed Spence an alternative to Anfernee Djiksteel at right-back or right wing-back.

Barring any late fitness issues, O'Neill may opt against making any alterations to his Stoke XI.

Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Jordan Thompson are both options in midfield if Jacob Brown drops out.

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Fry, Hall, McNair; Dijksteel, Saville, Morsy, Bola; Watmore, Akpom, Mendez-Laing

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Gunn; Smith, Souttar, Chester, Norrington-Davies; Mikel, Allen; Brown, Powell, Clarke; Fletcher


SM words green background

We say: Middlesbrough 1-1 Stoke City

With relegation not on their radar, both clubs have the freedom to push for victory in the North-East. However, attacking has not necessarily been their strong point, leading us to predict a low-scoring draw at the Riverside Stadium.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Draw:data


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Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth pictured in February 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CNorwich CityNorwich462910775363997
4Swansea CitySwansea4623111256391780
5Barnsley46239145850878
6Bournemouth4622111373462777
7Reading461913146254870
8Cardiff CityCardiff4618141466491768
9Queens Park RangersQPR461911165755268
10Middlesbrough461810185553264
11Millwall461517144752-562
12Luton TownLuton461711184152-1162
13Preston North EndPreston46187214956-761
14Stoke CityStoke461515165052-260
15Blackburn RoversBlackburn4615121965541157
16Coventry CityCoventry461413194961-1255
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest461216183745-852
18Birmingham CityBirmingham461313203761-2452
19Bristol City46156254668-2251
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield461213215071-2149
21Derby CountyDerby461111243658-2244
RWycombe WanderersWycombe461110253969-3043
RRotherham UnitedRotherham46119264460-1642
RSheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461211234061-2141

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